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BellaNaija Celebrates Academic Excellence: Onoriode Reginald Aziza

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BellaNaija presents “Celebrating You! Class of 2015” We called for submissions of graduating students who had excelled in their course of study. We acknowledge the fact that everyone who has graduated this year is a winner. We, therefore, want to celebrate people who have gone over and above the norm. People who have gotten meritorious distinctions and awards from their institution of study. We hope that you are inspired and we look forward to receiving more entries.

We present you…Triple Threat Onoriode Aziza!

IMG_4915 The star of today’s show is deserving of all the celebration we can muster because he has distinguished himself on three different levels of academic pursuit. Graduating from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife , with a first class degree, he went on to achieve the same feat at the Nigerian Law School. In June 2015, Onoriode Reginald Aziza  graduated from the Cambridge University with another first class degree.

Onoriode’s father is a retired civil servant, and his mother is a professor at the Delta State University. Talking about his parents, he says that his father counselled consistent hard work.

We love the raw honesty and brilliance of Onoriode’s story! “Although I had a penchant for childish excesses, good parental discipline and support from my siblings led me in the right path, and into starting my schooling at a tender age. I believe this gave me a spirit of extreme determination, a trait I believe, is my most distinct feature.

Onoriode’s graduation ceremony from Cambridge University is on the 27th of June, but we couldn’t wait to get the photos. We will update this post as soon as we receive them.

But, when you read the story, you’ll know why our excitement knows no bounds.

***

I Was Never a Genius
After strenuous struggles at the prestigious Kings College Lagos, I was admitted to study law in Obafemi Awolowo University at 15. Young, naïve and free-spirited, I took up the challenge of studying law – and a daunting challenge it was! My initial years were rough. I initially had a writing style used across all examinations, but wildly fluctuating grades quickly taught me to pick courses only after careful enquiry, and tailor examination answers to the tastes of the particular lecturers. After initial skirmishes with unpleasant grades, I later became consistent and my CGPA hovered around a 4.4 from the second semester of my third year until my very last result. The fact that I am the only first class graduate of the Faculty of Law in the last four years confirms the difficulty of the task.

The Daunting Feat of Law School
Proceeding to the Nigerian Law School at 20 presented even more challenges: I was forced to compete with my colleagues in the Yenagoa Campus and with the five other campuses of the Law School system; I was exposed to seminar-styled lectures sometimes running into six hours in length with only a thirty minute break, as opposed to the maximum of two-hours I was accustomed to in the university; I was compelled to challenge myself on a national scale against the best and brightest of students around Nigeria; and I was constantly reminded that as the best graduating law student from OAU, I had to replicate this excellence on a national scale. I had the benefit of fantastic lecturers at the Yenagoa Campus of the Law School who showed me the nuances of the system and how to make the most of it. After ceaseless hours of working through the year and during the externship programs, I sat the bar examinations and made my 2nd first-class and finished as the second best in Nigeria.

I recall joking with my friends that whilst I do not have the dexterity of Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo on a football pitch, I may have the ability to score a hat-trick of first-class results. The Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge was the venue, the flagship Masters of Corporate Law (MCL) Degree was the target and I prepared myself for an epic battle of intellect.

Challenges!
Funding a Masters in Cambridge is a big issue. Prior to resumption, and facing the prospects of having my admission revoked, I wrote ceaselessly to prominent Nigerians, Senior Advocates, Governors, Ministers and Governments, requesting funds and promising to be bonded in service to them or to the country upon my return if granted the funds. As expected, my entreaties were met with a mixture of deafening silence and tenuous, pontifical excuses. Thankfully, I finally secured a scholarship just in time to commence the program.

IMG_5111Cambridge and the MCL brought competing to an entirely new level. The minimum eligibility requirement to take the MCL was a first class in the university, and the course admits a maximum of 25 students in the world. With an eventual cohort of 23 students spread through 16 countries and all continents, including students who had concluded doctoral programs, and students working in the Central Banks and Securities Commissions of their home countries, I had no doubt that around and beside me were some of the best and brightest brains in their respective countries. The prospect of learning with and competing against them was scary and refreshing in equal measure. Whilst realism told me it would be difficult, optimism told me it is possible.

Lionel Messi of Academic Excellence! Hello Hat-trick
From my first breath in Cambridge on September 29th 2014 to my final examination on June 5th 2015, I was motivated by a single goal: ensure the world knows that the best students in Nigeria can compete with, and excel against the best students in the world. I had no precedents to work with as none of my friends who had finished from Cambridge before me made a first-class. Fortunately, I was classmates with an amazing senior colleague of mine from OAU (who like me, also made the first class in Cambridge). His presence gave me a compass with which to navigate the academic seas of Cambridge amidst the tumultuous waves of a crashing Naira exchange rate, without sinking my boat.
IMG_5112 IMG_4957
Whilst ensuring a realistic sense of what was important, I ensured I made the most of Cambridge. I traveled, met new people, explored and experimented (sometimes determining not to eat the cuisine of one country more than once in a particular week)! I secured vacation placements with law-firms in London, attended balls, garden parties and formal dinners, undertook a pro-bono project with the Law Faculty, served food to the homeless on the streets of Cambridge, and locked myself in the library when needed. At the end of the second term, of my 4 courses, I had secured 3 first class results and 1 first class with distinction. Mathematically, even with a term left, the deal had been done, and nothing but an absolute shipwreck in my final term could deny me the hat-trick. The final term went just as well as the previous terms and finally, the results were officially released: I had my 3rd first-class in the bag, and I was just 23! The 1st first-class felt good, the 2nd first class felt great; the 3rd was outright emotional: saying I was on the Mt. Everest of ecstasy does not do justice to the feeling!

Keep Raising the Bar
Borrowing from the wisdom of an old English judge, it appears that those with a taste for fairytales seem to think that in some Aladdin’s cave, there is hidden a virtue variously called ‘natural talent’ or ‘genius’ and something in the art of reproduction confers it on some children and not on others, which makes them excel better than others. Whilst I cannot attest to the truthfulness of this claim in other disciplines, I know it is non-existent in law. I can attest to the fact that I was born with no knowledge of commercial law, civil litigation, or competition law: knowledge of the law resides in the pages of books. I thus believe, as did Justice Melville Fuller of the US Supreme Court, that “the world furnishes many examples of the superiority of the truly earnest and laborious mind over the merely intellectual.” Academic excellence therefore does not reside in in-born gifts but in unrepentant effort. Irrespective of your circumstances, I urge you to set the goal, raise the bar, and pursue. Dreams are neither too big nor goals too high, but minds are either too small to conceive them or arms too short to achieve them. Yes, you can!

_________________________________________________________________________
If you want to be part of this inspiring and amazing feature or if you know someone who is part of the Class of 2015 who should be featured here, please send an email to features(at)bellanaija(dot)com. We look forward to reading from you and sharing your academic excellence.

66 Comments

  1. MissBonnie

    June 24, 2015 at 7:22 am

    Wow !!! Congrats . You are on your way to achieving greatness .. Not by your results , but by your determination

    • polypoly

      June 24, 2015 at 3:50 pm

      congrats fine boy……but are you R U SINGLE??? #askingForAfriend

  2. Deedara

    June 24, 2015 at 7:50 am

    Well done young man!! Thanks for excelling against all odds, being so goal-oriented and motivated and doing your family proud. Congratulations! You definitely have a very bright future.

  3. Chy

    June 24, 2015 at 7:59 am

    Wow congrats.that is very impressive.
    This came in time for my molecular biology exam? my brain is crashing but thou shall not sink lol.

    • NK

      June 24, 2015 at 11:10 am

      Good luck Chy. wish you best of luck

  4. theurbanegirl

    June 24, 2015 at 8:38 am

    this education thing omg congratulations! @chy goodluck you will pull through amen!

  5. B

    June 24, 2015 at 9:03 am

    wow…Congrats. I guess it runs in the family, is Brother also graduated with first class B.sc Economics from O.A.U also.

  6. Moyo

    June 24, 2015 at 9:05 am

    Well done,Onoriode, your story is inspiring. I must get my children to read it

  7. Ruky Valour

    June 24, 2015 at 9:06 am

    great, congrats u made us proud

  8. tamy

    June 24, 2015 at 9:14 am

    Wow wow wow dis is great,a big congrats to u,i can say I knw hw difficlt it mustv bn seein as we’re in dsm feild almst at dsm tym,wishing u d best in ur future endeavours,hope u’ll enroll for ur doctorate soon n create anoda record. Tnks fr d motivation n congrats once again

  9. Priscy

    June 24, 2015 at 9:22 am

    Wow….Weldone young Man
    He is just 23…

  10. jenniferAk

    June 24, 2015 at 9:27 am

    Congrats, More grease to your elbow, my prayer is to marry someone that is very Intelligent. I really Admire people who are Exceptionally Intelligent, not just Intelligent but Knowledgeable # because wisdom is Required #…
    YOUR STAR IS STILL YET TO SHINE.. GOODLUCK

  11. Connie

    June 24, 2015 at 9:36 am

    Congratulations! This is very inspiring. At such a young age you have achieved so much and you admit it to your hard work and determination. Some people will claim they come from a line of geniugeniuses which will make it difficult for others to relate to them. Please do us a favor and blast those politicians that turned you down for assistance. I am sure you are smater than them and if do a better job than them.

  12. FUSION OAU

    June 24, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Well all I would say is……. Obafemi Awolowo University does produce some top top (hardworking) scholars…….
    well done young man, you have done very well and you have made us (OAU Alumnus) very proud………

  13. afia

    June 24, 2015 at 10:00 am

    woow this is refreshing Reginald. u’ve rili done ur family and country proud. i’m glad u didnt only stick ur nose in ur books but also took advantage of enjoying ur social life to the utmost capacity.. congratulations are in order young genius…

  14. babym

    June 24, 2015 at 10:04 am

    Hot Damnnnnn!!! This boy is a freaking genius!! Anyone that can pass naija law school and get a first class has got to be a genius. I managed to get a pass in law school lolol and that was the most difficult exam of my entire life lol. God bless you young man, I don’t know you but Im so proud of ur achievements. Im going to share this article with my oyibo colleagues at work and tell them u r my cousin hehehe.

  15. Oloye

    June 24, 2015 at 10:04 am

    Congratulations boy! God bless you..

    Glo, Airtel, MTN, NB, Shell, Chevron etc; so this boy just like other great Nigerians making history all over the world doesn’t deserve to be your AMBASSADOR too??? Kantinu…:

    Onoriode you are God’s and Nigeria’s great AMBASSADOR, even though it doesn’t come with N50mish that the OLODOS get from singing rubbish…sad 🙁

    • Dr. N

      June 24, 2015 at 2:02 pm

      Pls start a petition. We need intellectuals too. As much as I applaud d artists, d youth need to know it’s not all about ‘whining waist’. How will Nigeria dev, mbok?

  16. mrs chidukane

    June 24, 2015 at 10:07 am

    Amazing! Congratulations man.

  17. yeah

    June 24, 2015 at 10:38 am

    Congrats Onoriode
    ,I’m truly inspired.Hardwork truly pays

  18. hmmm

    June 24, 2015 at 10:42 am

    God bless you young man and congratulations. You are an inspiration to this world. You will be celebrated as you dine with kings and queens in Jesus name

  19. Abena

    June 24, 2015 at 11:06 am

    From the “celebrating academic excellence series”,i realize that most Nigerians enter the university at 15,why is that?
    In Ghana,at 15yrs,one would be entering Senior High School,You spend 3 years in SHS ,graduate at 17 and enter Uni at 18 or thereof.
    Can someone please explain to me how your educational system is?and does it cut across?
    Personally i prefer Ghana’s educational system because you enter university quiet matured in mind and deed..

    • Shannie

      June 25, 2015 at 5:55 am

      I was wondering about the age 15 thing too. Is that normal in Nigeria?

      Hopefully someone answers for the both of us.

    • MissA

      June 26, 2015 at 10:13 am

      Well for someone like me, I started my nursery education at age 2 and went on to primary level at age 5. Spent 5 years in primary and started secondary at age 10. Secondary lasted for 6 years, and off to university at age 16, spent 4 years in the university and graduated at 20.
      It varies for many people, but i will think the average age range people get into secondary school in the cities in Nigeria will be between 9-12 and secondary education lasts 6 for years

  20. NK

    June 24, 2015 at 11:11 am

    I also love this story. Motivation for the soul. Really boosted my morals. Thank you and well done.

  21. AsMyself

    June 24, 2015 at 11:16 am

    Wow!!! #RESPECT. You have my respects because this is no mean feat. I’m so proud of you, young as you are. You are a truly phenomenal and inspirational man, Onoroide. Your future is too bright for words. CONGRATS!!!

    Dear Nigerian Youth, this young man right here should be one of your role models and mentors. This is certainly something to aspire to.

    As for all those rich people who ignored his plea for sponsorship : YOUR LOSS!

    To those brands that never see the need to make this kind of exceptional person an ambassador: RECEIVE SENSE!

    That is how Godswill Akpabio made noise up and down about giving me scholarships to my Ph.D level after I graduated with a first class, and NEVER fulfilled it.

  22. Chicanita

    June 24, 2015 at 11:21 am

    Very impressive! well done and congratulations

  23. Shirley-Roseline

    June 24, 2015 at 11:27 am

    I remember the day he put up his result as his Dp, I lost it and screamed at work and used same. You should have seen the comments from friends… Seeing same on BN made me SCREAM again… nd am like this is my Friend OOO. Its exciting knowing someone like Regi… I just have to say he is the humblest person with his achievements that I have ever met. Very Playful but very humble, genuine and focused. My prayer for my friend Regi darling is that nothing will ever distract you from your goal in life, your achievements are not over as this is but a stepping stone to greatness and the brighter things ahead. Job well done!

  24. Onoriode Reginald Aziza

    June 24, 2015 at 11:34 am

    I am sorry I cannot reply to each of the individual comments. But thank you and thank you for your support. It is gratifying to see we appreciate modest academic successes. I hope my little story is able to motivate someone out there.

    • mrs chidukane

      June 24, 2015 at 12:04 pm

      Lol @ modest academic achievements.

    • TA

      June 24, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      hahaha! Your achievements are not modest o. neither is your story little or modest. (But I like your modesty. Pun intended lol) 🙂 I’m so very proud of you. Your story is amazing. Keep up the determination ok? Wishing you the very best.

    • bb

      June 24, 2015 at 7:39 pm

      Am so proud of you, may the works of your hands be established and may success and prosperity be your companion. ps – if you need a wife —- winks —- holla at me – I get law degrees oh.+21 age ..lol…. congrats.

    • zibaintl

      July 3, 2015 at 6:01 pm

      cant find d right words to say..but d determinatn in your success story has added anoda inch to my determination of establishing a farm that will feed not just Nigeria but nations of d world…congrats dear,,,more achievements ahead . bless u.

  25. Onoriode Reginald Aziza

    June 24, 2015 at 11:42 am

    All the very best. Chy. I trust you will be fine. Just keep focused and hardworking. I shall be delighted to read your story here soon enough.

    • Chy

      June 24, 2015 at 9:47 pm

      Thankssss?

  26. Goodness

    June 24, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Oh lawd!!!this is a super ‘wooooooooow’!!!am soooo proud of you,I don’t know you in person but I knw u deserve this,d sky is only spring board.

  27. Noms

    June 24, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Congrats, Onos.
    I see a very young Prof and possible Minister in you.
    May you never lack any help.
    Proudly Deltan *winks*

  28. Mz Socially Awkward...

    June 24, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    *Slow clap* I love it.

    And I had to laugh at the irony of him writing to all those Governors, Ministers etc. to ask for sponsorship and getting nearly zero response. Bloody PTDF spends a blinking fortune every year, handing out full financial grants to dozens of Nigerian engineers who attend Robert Gordon University for different M.Scs (tuition, accommodation and living allowance completely bankrolled throughout the whole period of study).. and yet, no clever clogs at the PTDF has ever questioned why so much money is spent training professionals for other countries to take advantage of. Sponsorship recipients have no obligation to return that knowledge to Nigeria so it usually ends up being acquired by different North Sea based engineering companies if those Nigerians land jobs in Aberdeen after graduating. Our brilliant government clearly excels in doing things ass-backwards…

    Aziza, your academic feats are very inspiring and the time spent at Cambridge sounds as fulfilling as it was challenging (particularly liking the idea of law students doing social work in soup kitchens). I hope you’ll be able to take advantage of the doors that might already be opening up for you, even those that lie farther afield than Nigeria. Not because your country doesn’t deserve your talent but because you personally deserve to gain as much useful experience as possible to enrich your professional future. All the best.

    • TA

      June 24, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      I laughed sadly too at the irony of asking thieving politicians to sponsor his education. Bloody thieves don’t care about you. Only about themselves and their interests. If na to carry small girl wey reach to be their granddaughter now and buy her bleaching creams, Range Rover or designer handbags of course they would be available. It will never be well with Nigerian politicians. Yes, I just cursed all of them.

    • riri bee

      April 23, 2016 at 2:19 pm

      lmao at buy them bleaching creams

  29. Annie

    June 24, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Reggie darling, I know you would make greater achievements and that’s why we are still friends. Hehe. The same birds of the same feather talk and all.*wink* lol. Congrats once again dear. You are a wonderful person

  30. Mary-Anne

    June 24, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    Congrats Reggie darling. We knew you would do it. I’m elated to have an amazing individual like you as a friend and senior colleague. Wishing you greater heights.

  31. Peaches77

    June 24, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    Weldon Reginald! May we read about you achieving greater feats in the nearest future! Maybe surpassing the likes of the ‘Echeruos..

  32. lollly

    June 24, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    wow! aside the mind blowing achievement, your write up itself is a master plan,…….I almost got lost….lol
    Oyinbo po! well done young man.

  33. Obaro Aziza

    June 24, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Amazing young man!!!… i am proud of you.

  34. Emmanuel Igwe

    June 24, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Congratulations Onos! I am proud of you. Keep moving up.

  35. prince

    June 24, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    INSPIRING is the word that came to mind after reading. I don’t believe in luck, you’re a blessed child and this is just the beginning.

  36. Anon

    June 24, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    Please can I get your email address? I’m in law school and need help! ?

  37. EllesarisEllendil

    June 24, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    Everything that needs saying has been said already. Congratulations!

  38. Ogbon Oghenemaro

    June 24, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    Congrats Reg…its really inspiring and challenging to see all you’ve achieved. It feels even better to be connected via the faculty of law, OAU and also importantly as a fellow tribesman. KUDOS!!!

  39. Mbanugo

    June 24, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    Floreat brother. Reginald we celebrate you,KCOB is proud. God bless you

  40. ZADERA

    June 24, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    Congrats it shows that hardwork,discipline,determination pays. Godbless you young man!

  41. olabanke Olaleye

    June 24, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    We are all proud of u onos. Congratulations

  42. Awhyte

    June 24, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    Well done Reginald. That’s great. Love your narration too. “I was classmates …” That’s humility and that’s deeply commendable.

  43. summer

    June 25, 2015 at 12:51 am

    I am working towards my PhD in the US, and I am currently at a low point: little motivation, and great disappointment in my experiments. However, this article has awoken something in me; the assurance that if i keep at it, i will be successful in the end. Thanks for sharing, congratulations and all the best ahead!

  44. kolade taiwo david

    June 25, 2015 at 4:43 am

    Great congratulations n more grace to ur elbow

  45. Tosin

    June 25, 2015 at 6:05 am

    lovely story. i’m so glad he made it.
    now i have a wish: more scholarships.

  46. Olakoyejo

    June 25, 2015 at 7:30 am

    Regi baba, “in Mama Papilo’s voice”….I know say one day you go make us proud.
    You keep making us proud and I can confidently say you deserve this feat.
    Congrats bro…well done

  47. D,K

    June 25, 2015 at 7:38 am

    Oh this is so amazing!!! Congratulations dear. You all are brilliant in your family.
    Francis is so brilliant and very social.. He would attend everyone’s party in school. We used to hail him. A big congratulations to you. May God’s will for your life come to pass. We are proud of you

  48. Harri Obi

    June 25, 2015 at 8:50 am

    Floreat Aziza. Talent is truly overrated. You were not the brightest in our set at Kings College but you’ve done it through hardwork. The James Bond set (007) is proud of you.

  49. stellamaris

    June 25, 2015 at 11:55 am

    congratulations onos, its so good to know that you have kept the flag flying. wishing you the very best. #iproudlyrepOAU#

  50. abu

    June 25, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    I’m proud to be a KCOB. U’ve done us proud. Wishing u the very best in ur future endeavours

  51. George

    June 25, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    Congratulations young man! You write and express yourself well too.

  52. determined

    June 30, 2015 at 8:59 am

    I just completed my nysc and am looking for a full scholarship to go for my masters degree in the uk. Suggestions?

  53. Prophet

    October 30, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    The Future President of NIgeria

  54. Sisi_Moren

    August 21, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    This is such a laudable feat. Congratulations to you!

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